Unusual Coffee Brews from Around the World

Coffee: it’s such a popular drink of choice, and many can’t function throughout the day without their daily cuppa (getting it cafe-standard is easy if you’ve got the slim and sleek Dedica).

But all over the globe, it’s prepared differently, and versions vary from country to country, sometimes even city to city.

Here are some unusual coffee brews you can find around the world:

Kopi Luwak

coffee cherries on a tree
Fun fact: Coffee grows on a tree, and the beans are actually the pit of a fruit. Photo from Rodrigo Flores.

Also known as civet coffee, kopi luwak is made from coffee beans plucked from civet cats’ droppings.

There’s no wonder why it’s hailed as the coffee bean for crazy rich Asians. Produced in Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines, this brew is pretty rare and expensive (a cup of kopi luwak can go for as much as $80 in the United States).

The entire process of making kopi luwak is surrounded by controversy and this exotic drink gets a huge “buyer beware” label.

Elephant Dung Coffee

two elephants walking side by side
Black Ivory Coffee is also known for its unique taste, and a lot of it has to do with the science of how the beans are broken down while in an elephant’s digestive tract. Photo from Craig Stevenson.

Like kopi luwak (minus the unethical bits), elephant dung coffee is made from coffee cherries that are collected from the poop of Asian elephants.

This uniquely-made coffee is also known as Black Ivory. You can find this earthy, smooth variety of coffee in Thailand, and the entire process of making elephant dung coffee is an extremely long one.

The elephants aren’t force-fed; instead, farmers incorporate coffee cherries into the elephants’ favourite snacks, such as bananas and tamarind. Whether the gentle giants eat it all is another story!

Ipoh White Coffee

Did you know that Ipoh has been named one of the top three coffee towns by the travel experts at Lonely Planet?

Its white coffee has gained international fame and is well-loved for its velvety texture. Many are often confused when they see the drink as it isn’t strictly white.

In fact, the drink is beige, and in Malaysia, “white coffee” refers to the paler colour of a roast (the addition of margarine gives it a lighter shade).

Kopi Gu You

Long before “Bulletproof Coffee” was born as a health food trend, there was Kopi Gu You.

Popular in Southeast Asian countries like Singapore, this cuppa is roasted, brewed, and consumed with a slab of butter.

Some prefer this over a regular cup of coffee because the butter adds an element of richness to the drink. The aroma is also quite incredible.

Scandinavian Egg Coffee

Are you a fan of strong but non-bitter coffee? Go for Scandinavian egg coffee.

To make this brew, you combine fresh eggs with coffee grounds. What you end up with is a cup with hardly any bitterness and barely any acidity.

Why an egg, you ask? It does several things, like balancing out the acidity of the coffee, neutralises chemicals that give coffee that bitter taste, and acts as a binding factor for the coffee grounds, so they sink to the bottom of the cup.

Kopi Joss

flaming charcoal
Kopi Joss is essentially coffee served with bits of charcoal, which give it its unique burnt taste. Photo from felipepelaquim.

Over in Indonesia’s historic city of Yogyakarta, you will find Kopi Joss. To put it simply: Kopi Joss is coffee topped with charcoal – yes, a piece of burnt wood!

This strange-sounding brew is prepared the conventional Javanese way, with loose coffee grinds and sugar added to a cup before pouring on hot water. Then, the magic happens: a piece of burning charcoal is placed into the cup, causing the coffee to sizzle and boil over.

You can’t drink it right away, though – you have to wait a few minutes before using your spoon to remove the red-hot glowing chunk of charcoal.

Kopi Joss has a smokey, woody aftertaste – something which coffee connoisseurs appreciate and find exceptionally delicious.